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Deja Vu?

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As construction of two underground additions to the Capitol gets under way, some passersby may find a vague familiarity in the gaping hole where the east wing steps used to be.

Yes, just five years ago, Boiseans were treated to a similar sight when the steps were rebuilt as part of a larger $1.1 million restoration project. Representatives of the Capitol Commission are quick to point out that the stairs were replaced well before anyone knew the Legislature would eventually vote to do such an extensive renovation.

"There was no crystal ball to show us that the Legislature would ever consider underground wings," said Jan Frew, Capitol restoration executive project manager.

The original project began in 2001 and completed in 2002, and included replacing the stairs as well as repairing and replacing exterior masonry. The steps had to be replaced in 2001-2002 to stop water from leaking into the Capitol's lower levels and causing further damage, Frew said.

Those steps, as well as the stairs on the west side of the building, have been removed, and the porticos on both wings will be disassembled piece by piece as well, said Gary Daniel, communications liaison for the commission. The portico pieces will be mapped and marked before being put into storage. Eventually, the pieces will be reassembled atop brand-new concrete steps.

The total Capitol restoration project is slated for completion in 2009.

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